The race is on.
For the Phoenix Coyotes and the other 29 NHL teams time is of the essence in this strike-shortened season filled with back-to-back-to-back games against the same team and other scheduling quirks. There is less margin for error in the chase to secure a playoff spot, especially when frequently playing teams within your division.
The ‘Yotes got off to a slow start to the season but now find themselves in the thick of the Western Conference playoff picture with just under two months left in the regular season.
The question is will they be when the dust settles at the end of April?
” I think they [will],” NHL on NBC analyst and former Coyote Jeremy Roenick told Pros2Preps Wednesday during an interview on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “[Goalie] Mike Smith still looks strong and whenever you have a coach like Dave Tippett, I think he’s one of the best in the league, you’re going to have a chance.”
Roenick believes Tippett may be the biggest factor in getting the Coyotes back to post-season after an unexpected run to the Western Conference Finals last summer.
“A, the players are going to play hard for him,” Roenick explained. “B, he puts a good system together that really fits well towards the roster that he has.”
He believes Phoenix’s grind-it-out mentality will suit them well as the season moves forward and teams start to wither from the rigors of the abbreviated schedule due to injuries, travel, etc.
“They’re going to be there at the end and they’re going to compete. They’re going to give teams fits.”
The Coyotes will play 13 games in 27 days next month to close the regular season.